By Sarah Kidwai
April 3, 2017
The Indian Constitution opens up as,
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”
I am an ‘Indian Muslim’ coming from a moderate practicing Muslim family. Brought up in Hindu neighbourhood, studied in a Christian Missionary school and have friends of various faiths and ideologies. During my childhood I used to burn crackers with my friends on Diwali, make Rangolis in neighbourhood. I still have many Hindu, Bengali and Christian friends dining with us on Eid, enjoying ‘Biryani’ and ‘Siwai’ more than I do. Putting ‘Bindi’ on my forehead fascinates me the most during my daily routine while going to the department of studies as well as other public places which never comes in my way of being identified as a Muslim. I refer my mom’s best friend as ‘Mausi’ who is a Hindu Brahmin. The day I came to Aligarh for my higher studies I was privileged to share my room with a purely vegetarian Hindu girl where we learned so much from each other by sharing the ideologies of each other’s religion always appreciated her when she used to purify our room with ‘Ganga jal’ very often. From the very first day in our hostel life, we started sharing our food and respecting each other’s choices. I regularly woke up early for my morning prayers the same way she used to get up for her ‘Gayatri Mantra’. Those were the days we enjoyed the most and learned about other faiths and cultures, which have been the ethos of this country since ages and helped making India identified as an example of secularism in the entire world.
The time when we were expected to go shoulder to shoulder in making India the most progressed one, we witness the speeches by many politicians and other disturbing elements with full of hate because of their petty benefits. People being deviated from the brotherhood made us all Indians feel dishearten.
The minds are compartmentalized and religion is used as a weapon by many such elements to fulfill their desires of power. Nowadays, education which was considered sacred and through which one can differentiate between right and wrong is not spared. One’s nationalism is measured by the institution to which one is associated to. One has to think a number of times twice before speaking his/ her mind out. We have to be cautious while hanging out with our male/ female friends, no matter our parents have any problem or not there are many other people for moral policing. There are much concerned people with our personal equations when personal choice is under threat.
Did Nehru, Gandhi and Ambedkar ever think of this India? I am sure never! They ended their lives in creating secular and united India. We all need to come forward to retain the glory of India’s secular identity.